Peter Thiel on Gawker: 'If I didn't do something, nobody would'

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Thiel vs. Gawker



Billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel said he secretly financed Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media, in an effort to put the news website out of business, The New York Times reported.

In an interview published Wednesday, Thiel said "it was worth fighting back" against the outlet which, in 2007, published an article entitled "Peter Thiel is totally gay, people."

SEE ALSO: Judge will not reduce $140 million in damages Gawker has to pay Hulk Hogan

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and sits on Facebook's board of directors, provided millions of dollars for Hogan's lawsuit and is apparently funding other cases.

The Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin noted that Thiel declined to reveal what other cases he supported.

"It's less about revenge and more about specific deterrence," Thiel told the newspaper in his first interview since the rumors that he funded the lawsuit reached a tipping point on Tuesday.

"I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest," Thiel said.

In a widely publicized privacy lawsuit this year, a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $140 million in damages from Gawker for publishing a sex tape in 2013 in which the former wrestler was featured. Neither the jury nor the public knew of Thiel's involvement in the case.

RELATED: See photos related to the case

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Peter Thiel on Gawker: 'If I didn't do something, nobody would'
Hulk Hogan sits in court before the start of his trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, left, along with attorney Seema Ghatnekar prepare to take a break just after the jury was handed Hogan's case against Gawker Media for deliberations on Friday, March 18, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for $100 million for posting a video of him having sex with his former best friend's wife. Hogan contends the 2012 post violated his privacy. (Boyzell Hosey/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Gawker attorney Michael Sullivan addresses the jury during his closing statements in the trial of former professional wrester Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker media, in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, March 18, 2016. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for $100 million for posting a video of him having sex with his former best friend's wife. Hogan contends the 2012 post violated his privacy. (Boyzell Hosey/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Hulk Hogan talks with his attorneys before the start of his trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Judge Pamela A. M. Campbell raises her hand to swear in the jury during the Hulk Hogan's trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Hulk Hogan talks with his attorneys before his trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY CREDIT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, testifies in court on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying that his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape filmed of Hogan and his then-best friendâs wife. (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Former Gawker employee A.J. Daulerio, right, testifies at the Pinellas County Courthouse in St. Petersburg, Fla., Monday, March 14, 2016. Hulk Hogan is suing Gawker Media for $100 million for posting an edited video showing him having sex with his then-best friend's wife. Lawyers for Gawker Media began presenting their case on Monday. (Stephen Yang/New York Post via AP, Pool)
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, left, and reporter A.J. Daulerio, right, sit inside a Pinellas County courtroom, Monday, March 14, 2016, in St Petersburg, Fla. Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker Media for the publication of a sex tape involving the former wrestler. Lawyers for Gawker Media began presenting their client's case on Monday. (Stephen Yang/New York Post via AP, Pool)
University of Florida journalism professor Mike Foley testifies during Hulk Hogan's trial against Gawker Media Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, waits in the courtroom during a break Wednesday, March 9. 2016, in his trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Gawker Media reporter A.J. Daulerio attends Hulk Hogan's trial against Gawker Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton attends Hulk Hogan's trial against Gawker Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, leaves the courtroom during a break Wednesday, March 9. 2016, in his trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
Pinellas County Judge Pamella Campbell, second right, meets with attorneys at the bench Wednesday, March 9. 2016, during Hulk Hogan's lawsuit trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
Gawker Media's Nick Denton, left, and A.J. Daulerio, right, listens to testimony during Hulk Hogan's lawsuit trial against Gawker Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, takes a moment as attorneys talk to the judge in court on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Fl. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying that his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted one minute and forty one seconds of a sex tape filmed of Hogan and his then-best friendâs wife. (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
David Houston, an attorney for Hulk Hogan, testifies Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Hogan's trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
FILE -In this Tuesday, March 1, 2016 file photo, Terry Bollea, known as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, watches potential jurors at the Pinellas County Courthouse, in St. Petersburg, Fla., as jury selection began in his case vs. Gawker Media. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, March 7, 2016, in the civil trial between pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and a popular news website. (Scott Keeler/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool, File)
Judge Pamela Campbell listens during a sidebar as Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, testifies in court on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 during Hogan's trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying that his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape filmed of Hogan and his then-best friendâs wife. (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 07: Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, testifies in his case against the website Gawker at the Pinellas County Courthouse March 7, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bollea is taking legal action against Gawker in a USD 100 million lawsuit for releasing a video of him having sex with his best friends wife. (Photo by Boyzell Hosey-Pool/Getty Images)
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Thiel told The Times he has been planning for years to secretly fund lawsuits against Gawker in an effort to shut the company down. The website publishes articles that "ruined people's lives for no reason," he said.

"One of my friends convinced me that if I didn't do something, nobody would," he added.

"Most of the people they attack are not in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can't defend themselves."

Gawker founder Nick Denton denounced Thiel's involvement in the lawsuit in a statement to The Times:

"Just because Peter Thiel is a Silicon Valley billionaire, his opinion does not trump our millions of readers who know us for routinely driving big news stories including Hillary Clinton's secret email account, Bill Cosby's history with women, the mayor of Toronto as a crack smoker, Tom Cruise's role within Scientology, the N.F.L. cover-up of domestic abuse by players and just this month the hidden power of Facebook to determine the news you see."

In another blow to Gawker on Wednesday, a Florida judge refused to overturnthe $140 million verdict against the news site.

The case will now go to a court of appeals. In a statement, Gawker said it hoped the appeals court will "correct" the verdict and "reaffirm the law that protects a free and critical press, which is more embattled and important than ever."

Read the full report from The New York Times

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